Alaska Squatter Laws

In Alaska, squatters must be in continuous possession of a property for seven years to claim adverse possession.
Written by David Ghanizadeh-Khoob
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
In Alaska, squatters can make an adverse possession claim on a property if they have lived there continuously for seven years or ten years if they are claiming good faith ownership.
If you own property in
Alaska
, it is important to know how to protect it from squatters or you could lose legal claim to that ownership. In Alaska, squatters have some legal protection, designed to give any land that has been left abandoned a chance to be put to use.
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Who’s considered a squatter in Alaska?

Squatters are people that move onto a property that has been left unoccupied, abandoned, or foreclosed without the express consent of any rightful owner
The US government has established laws that differentiate squatting from trespassing, and each state has established laws outlining how squatters can make legal claims to the property after a certain amount of time. 

Squatting vs. trespassing vs. holdover tenants

Squatting is legally distinct from trespassing, and it is legal to squat under certain circumstances. The difference between trespassing and squatting lies in two key points—whether the property is occupied and whether the squatter has been informed that they are unwelcome. This notice can be verbal, written, or expressed through signage. 
If someone starts living on your property without your permission while you are living there then that is trespassing. Similarly, if you leave your home in Alaska for a two-year-long vacation and put up no trespassing signs and someone takes up residence on your property, that is also trespassing.
However, if the property is abandoned in Alaska and the squatter has no reason to believe that they are unwelcome—or if there has been no clear communication that they are unwelcome—then they are legally allowed to continue residing there, and may even be able to eventually claim ownership.
Holdover tenancy is another situation in which a tenant continues living on the property after the lease has expired. In this case, the former tenant would be trespassing if the landlord has communicated that they are unwelcome. If the tenant continues paying rent, though, and the landlord continues accepting the rent, then they become tenants at will

Adverse possession laws in Alaska 

If squatters are not technically trespassing on a property, they can eventually claim ownership of that property through an adverse possession claim. This can be done even if the original owner still has legal rights to ownership of the property.
To qualify for adverse possession in Alaska, a squatter must prove continuous occupation of a property for seven years or occupy the property for ten years because of good faith—the mistaken belief that the property lies within the boundaries of property owned by the squatter. 
In the US there are five key requirements that a squatter has to meet to qualify for adverse possession. That said, squatters cannot claim adverse possession of a piece of land owned by the state or federal government.

Hostile possession

Hostile possession doesn’t necessarily mean anything nefarious. Rather, it means that the squatter doesn’t have expressed permission from the owner to live on the property—whether or not the squatter is aware of it.

Active possession

To meet the criteria for adverse possession, the squatter has to be actively living on the property and using it as an owner would. This includes doing necessary maintenance and completing renovations, landscaping, and repairs.

Open and notorious possession

The squatter must be openly living on the property and not hiding their presence. If the original owner investigates their property at any point, then it should be obvious that someone was living there.
If the squatter has to hide their presence, they would not be fulfilling this requirement and would not qualify for adverse possession.

Exclusive possession

The legal claim to property under adverse possession laws can only be attached to one person, and that person has to fulfill all of these requirements themselves. 
If there is a group of people squatting on a property, they cannot claim ownership as a group, and they cannot prove continuous possession as a group. 

Continuous possession

The squatter must have been using the property continuously for the required time. In Alaska, a person must have been living on the property for seven consecutive years (ten years if possessed through good faith). If they were to leave for an extended period during that time, then the seven years would restart upon their return.
Key Takeaway There are five key criteria for a squatter to qualify for adverse possession. While these criteria are similar throughout the country, each state may have different specifications. 

Does Alaska honor color of title claims?

Color of title claims are property ownership claims under irregular means. If a squatter can provide documented proof of the above requirements, then they can make a color of title claim.
If the squatter has a color of title claim to property through adverse possession, then the state of Alaska will honor this as a legal claim to property ownership

How to protect yourself from squatters

If you are worried about squatters on your property, there are some precautions you can take:
  • Visit your property from time to time: Visit or have someone you trust visit your property occasionally to see if anyone is squatting there
  • Install locks and alarms: If your property has a house or structure on it, then installing alarms and robust locks will help to prevent unwanted entrants.
  • Post ‘no trespassing” signs: If you are going to be away from your property for long periods, make it clear that any potential squatters are unwanted by putting up sufficient signage.
  • Pay property taxes on time: Though tax payments are not a requirement for squatters to claim adverse possession in Alaska, it is strong evidence that you are still actively in possession of the property if you are paying taxes on it.
If you need to get squatters off of your property, make sure you follow the proper legal channels to remove them. Start by asking them to leave with a written notice. If they refuse, then either offer to rent them the property, contact the police, or file an unlawful detainer lawsuit to evict them. 

How to find better rates on home and auto insurance 

Now that you know how to protect your home from squatters, consider protecting your home from other potential issues with the right home insurance. 
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FAQs

In theory, squatters can stay on a property indefinitely if they have a legal color of title claim.
No, unlike most other states, squatters in Alaska do not have to pay property taxes to make an adverse possession claim. Property taxes can, however, be used to document the occupation of the property.
Not really, no. If the home is abandoned, foreclosed, or unoccupied, then squatting is legal as long as the squatters have not been informed that they are unwelcome.
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